MISSOULA – The Montana Grizzlies started their quest to repeat as Big Sky Conference men’s basketball champions with a couple road wins last week. Now they return home looking to stay perfect.
Montana will play in Dahlberg Arena for the first time since Dec. 17 when Sacramento State comes to town. The Hornets lost their conference opener to fall to 6-4 on the season.
However, the two teams always seem to have close contests. Last year’s meeting in Missoula went to overtime, and the Hornets won by two points the year before. The Griz know the style they’ll need to play to remain undefeated in the Big Sky.
“It’s all mental, it’s all mental: the details, the grind, the grit. We got to beat them to loose balls, we got to play harder, we got to push the ball, we got to push tempo and understand that we are going to win this game on the defensive side of the ball,” said UM head coach Travis DeCuire. “And if we come out and defend the way we know we can, we’ll be fine.”
“They play hard, (assistant coach Chris Cobb) did a great job with the scout. Guys who have been here have played them a lot of times, and we know that they’re always prepared to play us,” said senior guard Michael Oguine. “So we know they are going to give us their best. We got to be very tough. They’re a great rebounding team, we’re going to have to box out — that’s what we worked on a lot in practice and saw it in the film, so to be successful we will have to rebound well against them.”
The Griz and Hornets tip at 7 p.m. Thursday. UM is back inside Dahlberg Arena on Saturday, hosting Portland State at 7 p.m.